What is the prevalence of venous air embolism (VAE)?

Updated: Dec 30, 2017
  • Author: Brenda L Natal, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Answer

Because of the nonspecific nature of the signs and symptoms of VAE, as well as the difficulty of documenting the diagnosis, the true incidence of VAE is not known. Interventional radiology literature reports an incidence of 0.13% during the insertion and removal of central venous catheters despite optimal positioning and techniques. [33] The frequency of VAE with central venous catheters based on a reported case series has also ranged from 1 in 47 to 1 in 3000. [2, 30] The neurosurgical procedure-related complications of VAE have been estimated to be between 10-80%. [2, 21, 22] Reports of VAE in the setting of severe lung trauma have been estimated between 4-14%. [10, 11, 18, 22, 34]

Race-, sex-, and age-related demographics

No racial, sex, or specific age predilection exists for VAE.


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